City of Trees is an environmental organisation, that encourage people to get outdoors and connect with nature through woodland management and by working hand in hand with community groups, schools, colleges and contractors to plant trees across Greater Manchester to help increase tree cover within these areas.
In the fight against climate change the charity are working with all 10 boroughs to plant trees in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions as well as organising sessions regarding other ways to tackle climate change such as sustainable fashion and alternative sessions that encourage people to live in a sustainable and eco-friendly way.
The organisation has different aspects that support the community’s health and wellbeing such as the Dementia Friendly walk which was held on the 10th of August where many came out to enjoy the sun, socialise and engage in insightful talk on identifying bird habitats with RSPB Manchester.
Dementia is the general term that categorises different types of impairments that can affects behaviour, thinking and feelings this is because of the damage that has be caused to the brain cells which interferes with the communication between the cells, diagnoses include Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, Fronto-temporal dementia, Mixed dementia and Reversible causes,and these walks have been occurring over the past few years in support of brain impairment.
Director Jessica Thompson studied a course about dementia due to her great passion for it and discovered how people with dementia are prone to isolation and lack of exercise, hence why it has been incorporated into the organisation.
The theme-based walks have been occurring for the past two years in Bolton and eight months in Manchester and has become extremely popular due to its nature and social elements such as enjoying refreshments and participating in creating a bird feeder at Smithills Hall or the Whitworth Art Gallery after a bird related nature walk to help with the mental health of the attendees.
The charity encountered obstacles when the launch of the Manchester walks were delayed until January when the initial schedule for it was September, due to caution being taken by the council when the Coronavirus broke out. Fortunately, the council considered the walks as a support group but did advice for a reduction of 10 persons per walk in addition to discontinuing the indoor activities.
A pilot event was organised for the Bolton dementia walks last August during the peak of the pandemic to gauge the success rate and it proved to be great although numbers began to decrease as the intensity of the virus increased and because the social aspect of the event was removed nevertheless, it was important for the City of Trees to continue to make the walks available, Project Officer Katie Jones said, “we were still there, and they knew that we were still there,” in a case where minds were changed.
Newsletters were sent to homes to keep in contact with those who were not attending due to the pandemic. The newsletters included art and crafts activities that could be done as a source of entertainment, and all were encouraged to participate and send in photographs. The continuous contact helped in terms of getting people back on board once restrictions were eased.
The organisation has begun a new project on Green Social Prescribing which entails a general practitioner prescribing for example a tree planting session for persons who have a mild mental health issue rather than being prescribed medication to help with their mental health.
City of Trees hopes to have the capability to organise dementia walks across Greater Manchester with there previous ones that were held in Salford and Trafford Katie Jones said, “It would be great to have these walks in Rochdale, Oldham, and maybe different areas in Bolton rather than just the one, that would be the dream,” however these aspirations are all funding dependent.